The Chief

SIS is headed by Sir John Sawers, known as the Chief of SIS or 'C' (after the first Chief, Mansfield Cumming who signed himself  'C').  Sir John took up his post on the 1st November 2009.

The Chief's role

The Chief is the only serving member of the Service who is officially named in public.  He is appointed by, and is accountable to, the Foreign Secretary.  The Chief is responsible for the control of SIS operations and for the efficiency of the Service. He has a duty to ensure that all SIS actions are consistent with its statutory functions.

He makes an annual report on the work of SIS to the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary.

Sir John's career

Sir John was previously the UK Permanent Representative to the United Nations in New York from August 2007 until his appointment as C.

From August 2003 until August 2007 he was the Political Director at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. In this post he advised the Foreign Secretary on political and security issues worldwide, and negotiated on behalf of the Foreign Secretary with international partners in the G8, EU and UN.

Prior to this he served two years in the Middle East, as Ambassador to Cairo, was Foreign Affairs Adviser to Prime Minister Tony Blair, dealing with all aspects of foreign and defence policy and headed the British Embassy team in Washington.

Sir John was a member of the Secret Intelligence Service before joining the Diplomatic Service. His early postings included Yemen, Syria and South Africa.

Sir John
Sawers
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